Climate Action for Enterprise Educators – Sharing ideas on how change happens…

Written by Catherine Brentnall, University of Huddersfield

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

How can (and should) those working in enterprise and entrepreneurship education and support change their practice in light of the climate and ecological crisis? This question was at the heart of a recent online event, delivered in collaboration with Enterprise Educators UK. EEUK has supported two research projects under the sustainability theme of its EERPF programme to explore this issue. Specifically, EEUK asked for projects which explored the relationship between EE and planetary sustainability, shifting focus explicitly towards the wider ecological context in which enterprise education is embedded.

This subject – planetary sustainability – seems so vast that the project which myself and Dr David Higgins, at the University of Liverpool proposed, is called: Enterprise Education and Planetary Sustainability – What can EE do? In this project, we have developed practical ways of pursuing (through the development of a workshop intervention), and discovered useful ways of thinking about, change (as an emergent process which can be generated through dialogic interactions).

We take as our starting point the assumption that we are existing (and educating) in an ecological context facing the immediate consequences and long-term implications of overshoot (Catton, 1982, Steffen et al, 2015;  Fanning et al, 2021), and where the depletion of natural resources is interacting with existing inequalities to create danger and harm for half the world’s population (see for example, IPCC 2021, 2022). In this crisis context, scholars and educators are being called upon to be ‘agents of change’ (Dodd et al, 2022), and in light of limited empirical examples about how educators might transform, contribute real responses and practical examples of change rather than simply advocate that it happens (Klapper and Fayolle, 2023).

In the online session we provided, we included references to the dialogic perspective that has supported our thinking and development. From this perspective systems change through a pattern of emergence (Holman, 2013), where change has a certain flow: disruptions break apart the status quo, the system differentiates and surfaces innovations and a new, more complex coherence arises. These ideas are elaborated by the Berkana Institute here, and further described in this blog by Daniel Rose here, and illustrated in various ways as the Two Loops Model for change.

The Two Loops model encourages us to recognise that a new system is created by people; people who become groups, groups who become networks and networks that become communities of practice which influence change. We might also use the model to reflect, where are we, our current practice, our institution in this change process? And how can we bridge to what’s next, what’s after  now, rather than holding on to dominant but dying ways of doing and being?

At the online session many EE colleagues shared various innovations, developments and transformations, they were already underway with (there is a list of these ideas and resources on EEUK’s events page). In the spirit of continuing this dialogue and strengthening connections between people interested in emerging what’s next, we are organising further online sessions to share the practice and build bridges.

Book onto our next session, on Friday May 19th, 1.30pm til 3.30pm here